Progressive challengers have been popping up around the country to face off against Democratic incumbents in the U.S. Congress.
This new phenomenon was sparked not only by Trump’s recent rise to power, but also by the deep divide between Bernie Sanders’ progressive wing and Hillary Clinton’s centrist wing of the Democratic party.
While many of these challengers are currently big underdogs, some have been able to gain ground on their veteran incumbents due to their grassroots fundraising and voters’ recent enthusiasm due to their immense frustration with the party establishment.
These progressive candidates have taken from the policy playbook of senator and former presidential candidate Sanders. These policies include cracking down on Wall Street, single-payer health care and criminal justice reform.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect of the recent enthusiasm from progressives is the diversity of these prospective candidates. Many have included women, racial minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.
One of these progressive challengers is 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and State Representative for the 89th House District. Though she’s taking on a Republican incumbent, Abrams has the chance to become the nation’s first African-American female governor. She recently appeared on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee where she talked about being a black female politician among the old, white male majority and how she was able to convince a Republican colleague to vote against an anti-abortion bill with her because it wasn’t pro-life enough.
In New York, Adem Bunkeddeko is one of several young Democrats who plan to take on veteran incumbents, as Politico points out. Bunkeddeko will challenge Rep. Yvette Clarke in New York’s 9th Congressional District. Bunkeddeko’s campaign points out that Clarke hasn’t been able to pass a bill in Congress since she arrived there, and he is running on a progressive platform to bring new subsidized housing to his district and pass criminal justice reform.
Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley, who has not had a primary challenge since winning his Chicago seat in a 2009 special election, is also beginning to strategize against several progressive challengers. In fact, Quigley recently made his first advertising purchase of the campaign.
Since most progressives stand for campaign finance reform and against funding through Super PACs, one challenge that many will inevitably face is that they could struggle to fundraise as much money as their incumbents. However, some progressive candidates have done exceedingly well in that regard.
In Chicago, Marie Newman outraised seven-term Rep. Dan Lipinski — $262,000 to $228,000, according to the Federal Election Commission. In New York, where 34-year-old Suraj Patel is facing off against Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Patel reported raising nearly $550,000 over the past quarter, outraising Maloney by a factor of four to one.